Protected Health Information

Protected Health Information

Tulare County Mental Health

24-Hour Crisis and Access Lines
Mental Health Crisis Line:  1-800-320-1616
Substance Use Disorder Access Line: 1-866-732-4114

Problem Resolution (Grievances and Appeals)
Mental Health: 1-800-500-4465
Substance Use Disorder: 1-833-433-4988


Protected Health Information (PHI) is any individually identifiable health information that is transmitted or maintained in electronic or any other form or medium. The HIPAA Privacy Rule provides federal protections for personal health information held by covered entities and gives patients an array of rights with respect to that information. At the same time, the Privacy Rule is balanced so that it permits the disclosure of personal health information needed for patient care and other important purposes.

A breach is, generally, an impermissible use or disclosure under
the Privacy Rule that compromises the security or privacy of the PHI.  An impermissible use or disclosure of PHI is presumed to be a breach unless the covered entity or business associate, as applicable, demonstrates that there is a low probability that the PHI has been compromised based on a risk assessment of the following factors:

  • The nature and extent of the PHI involved, including the types of identifiers and the likelihood of re-identification;
  • The unauthorized person who used the PHI or to whom the disclosure was made;
  • Whether the PHI was actually acquired or viewed; and
  • The extent to which the risk to the PHI has been mitigated.

The following identifiers constitute (alone or in combination) PHI:

  1. Patient names (first and last name OR last name, first initial)
  2. Dates related to the health or identity of individuals (including birthdates, date of admission, date of discharge, date of death, or exact age of a patient older than 89)
  3. Telephone numbers
  4. Fax numbers
  5. Email addresses
  6. Social security numbers
  7. Medical record numbers
  8. Health insurance beneficiary numbers
  9. Account numbers
  10. Certificate/license numbers
  11. Vehicle identifiers
  12. Device attributes or serial numbers
  13. Digital identifiers, such as website URLs 
  14. IP addresses
  15. Biometric elements, including finger, retinal, and voiceprints
  16. Full face photographic images 
  17. Any other unique identifying number, characteristic, or code
  18. Geographical elements (such as a street address, city, county, or zip code)